Why Candy Montgomery Was Acquitted Of Murder

In 1977, two housewives named Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore, both living in the small town of Lucas, Texas, struck up a friendship. Both women attended the Methodist Church of Lucas with their husbands, Pat, an engineer at Texas Instruments, and Allan, a telecommunications professional, according to Texas Monthly. They each had children, who soon became friends, and the families began to spend a good bit of time together.

From the outside, their lives appeared to be quiet and comfortable. However, the then-29-year-old Montgomery was bored, frustrated, and unfilled simply being a stay-at-home housewife. She began looking for a way to add a spark of excitement to her life, and she found it in Allan Gore. In 1978, she approached Gore with a proposition. "Would you be interested in having an affair?" she asked him. He agreed. For the next few months, the pair met in secret at a seedy motel in Richardson, Texas for their weekly illicit rendezvous.

Allan and Candy agreed to end their affair

In April of 1979, Candy (above) and Allan agreed to pause their affair because Allan's wife was due to give birth to the couple's second child. Their weekly meetings resumed a few months after Betty gave birth, but they both began to develop doubts. Allan decided to recommit to fixing his marriage with Betty, and Candy and Allan mutually agreed to end the affair. For the next few months, life seemed to go on as normal.

It seemed that Betty Gore was none the wiser about the affair. The couples' children continued to spend time together, even spending the night at each other's homes. One night in mid-June of 1980, the Gore's eldest child, Alisa, spent the night at the Montgomery house. The following evening, the Montgomery family was planning to attend a drive-in showing of a "Star Wars" movie, and Alisa desperately wanted to tag along, according to Soapboxie. On Friday, June 13, 1980, Montgomery stopped by the Gore house around 10 in the morning to ask Betty if it would be all right for her daughter to spend a second night with the Montgomerys, as well as pick up Alisa's swimsuit.

Betty confronted Candy about the affair

Candy wasn't expecting a confrontation about her affair with Allan, but that was exactly what happened. Betty had discovered notes and cards Candy had given to Allan, and finally gotten wise to their secret affair, per Soapboxie. Candy didn't deny the affair, but also couldn't convince Betty that the affair had ended. A confrontation ensued, and by the time Montgomery left the house, she had struck Betty Gore with an ax a total of 41 times.

Montgomery washed up in the Gore's bathroom and then continued to go about her day, with Alisa Gore in tow, despite having left Alisa's crying infant sibling alone in the house with the body of their murdered mother, via The Dallas Morning News. After leaving the Gore house, Candy even called her husband to arrange the family plans for the evening. "Pat, we just got home from Bible school and wanted to be sure you get enough money at the bank, because Alisa is going to the movie with us. The kids nagged about it after you left this morning, and so I promised them I'd ask Betty if Alisa could stay another night. But then I had to go to Betty's to pick up Alisa's swimsuit and we got to talking and I lost track of time," she explained (via Texas Monthly).

Candy Montgomery claimed she killed Gore in self-defense

However, Allan soon came forward about the affair, and just two weeks later, Candy Montgomery was arrested. When the case went to trial in October of 1980, Montgomery and her defense team made the claim that it was Betty Gore who had initiated the attack. Montgomery told jurors that it was Betty who took the ax from the garage and first swung it at Candy, and she only struck back in self-defense after struggling to get the ax away from her.

Although the prosecutors contended that the 41 brutal blows, 28 of which were directed at Betty's face and many of which were inflicted while she was still conscious, was clear overkill, Montgomery's attorney had a self-defense justification lined up, via Oxygen. They put a psychiatrist, Dr. Fred Fason, on the stand. Fason was also a clinical hypnotist who examined Candy Montgomery extensively, wrote Texas Monthly. Fason attested that Betty had triggered a traumatic childhood memory in Candy by telling her to "Shhhh." This trigger had sparked a type of "dissociative reaction," which caused Montgomery to lose all awareness and control.

The defense's plan worked. After deliberating for less than four hours, the jury acquitted Candy Montgomery of Betty Gore's murder, despite the vicious nature of the attack. "We determined it never had a bearing on the verdict at all — whether it was one gunshot or 1,000 whacks," juror Alice Doherty Rowley told The Dallas Morning News.

Where is Candy Montgomery today?

According to Insider, little is known about Montgomery's life after the trial. However, The U.S. Sun writes that the Montgomery family moved to Georgia after her acquittal. Although her husband, Pat, stood by her throughout the murder trial, the pair is said to have divorced sometime in the 1980s. Per The Daily Mail, it's widely believed that Montgomery still lives in Georgia and now goes by her maiden name, Candace Wheeler. She reportedly works as a mental health counselor. The Cinemaholic states that Pat is now in his 70s and has also chosen to live a private life. Reports indicate that he now goes by the name James.

As for the Montgomery children, an article from The Sun explains that they too have remained out of the public eye. Their names have never been officially released. Another article from The Cinemaholic claims that their names are Jennifer and Ian. Their current whereabouts and ages remain unknown. After their mother's death, Gore's daughters, Alisa and Bethany, were raised by their maternal grandparents in Kansas (via Bustle). By all accounts, both girls have gone on to become successful women with families of their own. Nonetheless, they refuse to publicly discuss their mother's murder (per Buzzfeed).

Family members note that they are unhappy about the two new series that focus on Gore's death. Hulu recently released "Candy," starring Jessica Biel as Montgomery and Melanie Lynskey as Betty. (The trailer is posted on YouTube.) Additionally, HBO Max's "Love and Death," starring Elizabeth Olsen and Lily Rabe, is set to premiere sometime in 2022 (per Distractify).